NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: August 4 – August 10, 2017

Sun Xun Times Square

It’s hot outside. You like air-conditioning. Good thing there are a lot of films this coming week!  MoMA has two screenings of the first Chinese sci-fi film that looks like Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder; The Asian American International Film Festival screens a critically-lauded film about the human impact of plastic waste in China, a farcial crime story from China, and a number of films by Chinese Americans; a film about a black siblings in Harlem who trace their genealogy to ancient China; and a beloved Taiwanese romance film from 1977.

In addition to the feature-length films at the Asian American International Film Festival we’ve listed, there are two shorts programs that include films by Chinese and Chinese American filmmakers.  Mad Mad World explores the dark side of humanity on August 3 at 9:15 includes David Liu’s Twenty Years, Camille Ma’s Killer Smile, Bo-You Niou’s Manners of Dying.  On August 4 at 6:30 PM, Love is Love is Love is Love screens Mei Liying’s Cocoon and Perry Pang’s Champion with four other shorts about the experiences of LGTBQ Asians around the world.  Both take place at Village East Cinema.

Also of interest is Class of 97 Panel: The Asian American New Wave on August 5 at 4 PM at Asia Society which brings together six Asian American filmmakers who brought attention to Asian Americans with breakthrough films.

Coming up:

August 12 – An introduction to Cantonese opera and a dark comedy that was the first animated Chinese feature film to be shown at the Berlin Film Festival and which also garnered attention for being withdrawn from a film festival in France due to pressure from the Chinese government.

Aug 12-13 – The 27th Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York

August 18 – 20 – Subway Cinema and Metrograph’s Old School Kung Fu Fest.  This year, the theme is “Wonder Women of the Martial Arts”

We add talks, films, performances, exhibitions, featuring or relating to Chinese, Taiwanese, diasporic artists and topics to our event and ongoing exhibition calendars as we learn of them.

We post frequently on our Facebook page.  So check the page for links we share and get a heads up on events before we include them in these weekly posts.  For art, images, and other instances of Chineseness we see, follow our Instagram page.

We’re looking for contributors!  If you’re interested in writing an article, contributing photos or artwork to be featured with our weekly events and exhibitions listing, letting us know about an event, send a pitch at beyondchinatown@gmail.com.


UPCOMING EVENTS

1) Shopping for Fangs – This hip and funny thriller centers on four very different Asian-Americans in their 20s whose lives unexpectedly intertwine. Phil is a payroll clerk who believes that he is turning into a werewolf because he has an unusual amount of body hair. Clarence is a homosexual student who spends most his time studying in the dinner where the feisty, blond-wig wearing lesbian Trinh works. Katherine is married to a real meathead. She is terrified of lovemaking and is very forgetful due to occasional blackouts. One day, Katherine loses her wallet. Soon afterward she starts getting romantic letters from Thinh. Her husband finds the letters and begins searching for Trinh. Meanwhile, Clarence makes Trinh his confidante and Phil begins believing that he is responsible for a series of deaths.

Screens as part of the Asian American International Film Festival‘s Class of 97 series that highlights four independent Asian American filmmakers who premiered their narrative coming-of-age feature films transcending identity politics.

Dir. Quentin Lee, Justin Lin
1997, USA, 90 min.

Friday, August 4,  6:30 PM
Asia Society

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2) Taxi Stories – Taxi Stories explores the complexity of social classes and human relationships in an economically divided Asia. A poor Beijing taxi driver, a Hong Kong trophy wife, and a Jakarta slums kid, all have trouble connecting with others, but seem to open up about their personal lives and conflicts in the comfort of a taxi.

Dir. Doris Yeung
2017, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Netherlands, 95 min.
Chinese with English subtitles

Screens as part of the Asian American International Film Festival.

Friday, August 4, 2017 7:00 PM
Village East Cinema

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3) Death Ray on Coral Island 《珊瑚岛上的死光》 – Based on the story by Tong Enzhang, the first Chinese science fiction film, Death Ray on a Coral Island emerged at a defining moment of nation’s history. It not only redefined science fiction as a genre independent from juvenile literature, but also played an important role in the discursive reconstruction of China’s national identity immediately after the destructive Great Cultural Revolution (1966-76). The chapter examines the film in three contexts: 1) the conflicting notions of the modernization and utopia among intellectuals and the state, 2) the influence of contemporary ‘traumatic culture’ and 3) the narrative conventions of Chinese science fiction works. The film was a product of multi-directional negotiations in which boundaries were subtly transgressed and redrawn in order to respond to old concerns and new crises. (Oxford University Press)

Directed by Hongmei Zhang
1980, China, 89 min.
In Mandarin with English subtitles

This is MoMA’s first Chinese sci-fi movie screening.

Image from Asia Obscura

Friday, Aug 4, 6:30 PM
Monday, Aug 74:30 PM
Museum of Modern Art, Theater 2

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4) Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China – Three successful Black siblings from Harlem discover their heritage by searching for their long-lost Chinese grandfather. The siblings and 16 of their family members travel to two Chinese cities, finding documented lineage that dates their family back 3,000 years to 1006 BC. This is a story about familial love and devotion that transcends love, space and time.

Friday, Aug 4, 6:30 PM (reception) 7:30 PM (screening)
Flushing Town Hall

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5) Yellow – This comedy-drama centers around eight Asian-American teenagers in Los Angeles on their last night together before high school graduation. On that evening, Sin Lee, one of the teens, tells his friends that he lost $1500 of his dad’s money while getting held-up in his father’s Korean grocery. Sin fears that once his parents discover the money is missing, he’ll be forced to work in his dad’s store instead of going off to college. The guys and girls rally together to help Sin recover the money.

Dir. Chris Chan Lee
1997, USA, 90 min.

Screens as part of the Asian American International Film Festival‘s Class of 97 series that highlights four independent Asian American filmmakers who premiered their narrative coming-of-age feature films transcending identity politics.

Friday, August 4,  9:30 PM
Asia Society

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6) Plastic China 《塑料王国》 – China is by far the world’s greatest plastic importer. Every year, developed countries from around the world send China ten million tons of plastic waste. While we’ve all heard about the environmental toll this takes, it’s not often we hear about the human toll. Chinese filmmaker Wang Jiuliang’s Plastic China shows the brutal reality of working Chinese families whose lives revolve around manually “recycling” plastic waste in scrappy workshops. Jiuliang focuses on workshop owner Kun, a father and husband in his late 20’s concerned about getting his son QiQi a good education. QiQi is good friends with the children of Peng, Kun’s employee who admits that he prefers spending his money on booze over his family.

Dir. Jiuliang Wang
2016, China, 86 min.
Chinese with English subtitles

Screens as part of the Asian American International Film Festival.

Saturday, Aug 5, 4:30 PM
Asia Society

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7) Free and Easy 《轻松+愉快》 – A crook visits a gloomy, snowbound town in northeast China bringing magic soap used to incapacitate the unaware so that he may rob them of money and property. A man is intent on re-uniting with his mother by meeting people through his religion. Two police officers set out to solve a case without any clues. A fake monk begins to work on the issue of solidarity through common pursuit. A forest ranger pursues a tree thief. In the midst of this, a murder takes place. Free and Easy is a farce in which crime is the new normal.

New York City premiere.

Dir. Geng Jun
2016, China, 97 min.
Chinese with English subtitles

The film is the Closing Film of the Asian American International Film Festival.

Saturday, Aug 5, 7 PM
Asia Society

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8) Cloud of Romance《我是一片雲 》 – Adapted from the Chiung-Yao novel of the same name, Cloud of Romance is one of the most representative love story films of the 1970s. Though the torrid love triangle ends in tragedy, the film remains an unforgettable memory for many movie fans of that generation.

Dir. Chen Hung-lieh (陳鴻烈)
1977, Taiwan, 96 min.

Thursday, Aug 10, 6:30 PM
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York (1 East 42nd Street)

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ONGOING FILMS, SHOWS, AND EVENTS

1) Asian American International Film Festival – Now in its 40th year, this festival by Asian CineVision is the first and longest running festival the country devoted to films and about Asians and Asian Americans.  This year, over 30 feature-length narrative and documentary films and nine shorts programs featuring films will be screened.  The festival opens with Gook, Justin Chon’s story of the 1992 LA riots that followed the Rodney King verdict. on July 26.  Hou Hsiao-hsien-produced Taiwanese film Small Talk 《日常對話》 about director Huang Hui-chen’s attempts to reveal and reconcile a painful past shared between herself and her mother A-nu, a lesbian Taoist priestess is the Centerpiece film, and Chinese film Free and Easy 《轻松+愉快》is the closing film.

The festival with also highlights four independent Asian American filmmakers who premiered their narrative coming-of-age feature films transcending identity politics in 1997 and are considered by cinema and Asian American studies scholars as part of the Asian American New Wave. Rea Tajiri (Strawberry Fields), Chris Chan Lee (Yellow), Eric Nakamura and Michael Idemoto (Sunsets), Quentin Lee and Justin Lin (Shopping for Fans) will attend screenings of their breakthrough films and join for a joint panel discussion.

About a dozen feature-length films, including Fruit Chan’s essential Made in Hong Kong 《香港製造》and Wang Jiuliang’s Plastic China 《塑料王国》, and a number of shorts by filmmakers from China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong and Chinese American filmmaker are in the line-up.  We’ll have a look at them soon.

The festival runs from July 26 – August 5 at Asia Society and Village East Cinema.

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2) Wolf Warrior 2 《战狼2》– The Wolf Warrior is back, bigger and badder than ever, in this action-packed sequel to the 2015 blockbuster hit. With his career in tatters, China’s deadliest Special Forces operative has settled into a quiet life on the sea. But when he crosses paths with a sadistic band of mercenaries terrorizing innocent civilians, he must reaffirm his duty as a soldier and save the day once again. Fists (and bullets, tanks, missiles and much more) will fly in this adrenaline-fueled tour de force of bravura action filmmaking, all culminating into a climactic battle between the Wolf Warrior and the mercenary leader (Frank Grillo, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War).

At AMC Empire 25


ART EXHIBITIONS

Opening and New Listed:

1) Yi Xin Tong: NYC Fishing Trip (Nars Foundation, 8/4 – 9/1) – Yi Xin Tong (童义欣) is a New York-based artist and amateur fisherman who enthusiastically steals his own studio time for fishing, which brings him to the remote peripheries of the city where ruins replace buildings and nature’s reclamation is surprisingly ubiquitous. Besides the new perspectives gained on the social geography of New York, fresh bluefish and striped bass occasionally appear on his dinner table. On the edge of the ocean as well as on YouTube, Tong’s endeavor is for the most part anti-productive; however, the salutations from his peer fishing channel hosts linger in his ears, “Tight lines. See you next time.”

Yi Xin Tong, still from Camera Popper Lure (2017), SD video with sound, 5’34”,courtesy of the artist.

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2) Li Wei: Cellar and Garret (Klein Sun Gallery, 8/10 – 9/2) – Using Gaston Bachelard’s elaboration on Carl Jung’s psychoanalytic studies on space as a base point, Lí Wei (黎薇) brings a group of installations which demonstrates a seeming cellar and garret, unleashing an unorthodox conversation between the viewer’s internalized desire and external facade of hypocrisy.

In Bachelard’s psychology, a garret gives shelter from fear where all thoughts are clear and conscious while a cellar hosts all subterranean forces where rationalization is never definite and one’s unconsciousness dominates. Verticality and centrality are the two key elements hosted by a versatile space with a cellar and a garret. Lí Wei entertains and executes both elements by incorporating a sharp contrast in style between the two divided gallery spaces and at the same time choosing subjects and objects that are plainly and blandly derived from our every-day life which evokes personal resonation for its viewers. In this sense, Lí Wei’s work is like a skeleton stripped of any flesh, nationality, race, personality or emotion and only by subjectively filling in these contents will you have a full perspective of what you are looking at – it likely will be pieced together into a subconscious version of yourself…

Whereas over-picturesqueness in a house can conceal its intimacy, Lí Wei’s Cellar and Garret is a playground of direct collision of thoughts and beliefs. Bachelard believes a crucial role for a  house is to host daydreams, and Lí Wei’s exhibition, Cellar and Garret, will become the most tension-packed daydream delivering an anthropo-cosmic shiver. This daydream feels surreal but honest, and exiting the gallery is like waking up staring at the beams and ceiling at home; a void filled with reverberation and questions.

Li Wei – ‘A Block of Cake’, 2010.
Performance, installation and video. Installation dimensions variable.
Video duration: 15 minutes. Courtesy Klein Sun Gallery, © Li Wei

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Dongfan Chen is part of the Studio Artists Exhibition at NARS Foundation, which opens on August 4.

Asia Society hosts Inspired by Zao Wou-Ki as part of a series of exhibitions that presents the work of New York City students created in response to the great artistic traditions of Asia.  This year the exhibition presents student artwork inspired by the Asia Society fall 2016 exhibition No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki.  The exhibition runs through August 6.

Hai-Hsin Huang‘s humorous and insightful observations of people out in the world — including one of the enormous drawings showing a moment at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be on view as part of Revealing Reflected Refractions at Tiger Strikes Asteroid August 4 – September 10.

Ceramicist Heidi Lau is part of Morph, a group show at Asya Geisberg Gallery of contemporary ceramic sculpture.  The artists in Morph paint expressionistically with glaze, weave in hair, inlay surfaces, squash perfect forms, recombine tchotchkes, and subvert genres heedless of strict boundaries.  The exhibition runs through August 11.

In addition to an installation at Fully Loaded: Tainan – New York 2017, Lulu Meng‘s will also exhibit her sculpture series Impression in which “softness and movement [of articles of clothing are] frozen in the solidity of the object” is part of the Fourth AIM Biennial at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

We dropped by Bronx Museum to see Heidi Lau’s terrace commission The Primordial Molder. It is simply amazing!

Installation view, photo by Hansi Liao

We also ran into Chuck Close’s subway mural of Chinese artist Zhang Huan (张洹) inside the 86th St. station on the Q line.

Chuck Close’s portrait of Zhang Huan as subway mural, photo by Hansi Liao

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Closing soon:

A New Ballardian Vision (Metro Pictures x Leo Xu Projects, 6/29 – 8/4)

Ji Zhou: Real Illusion (Klein Sun Gallery, 6/22 – 8/5)

Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/29/16 – 8/6/17)

Hansel and Gretel (Park Avenue Armory, 6/7 – 8/6)

Close, but not touching (Biggercode, 7/27 – 8/7)

Morph (Asya Geisberg Gallery, 6/22 – 8/11)

Body, Self, Society – Chinese Performance Photography of the 1990s (The Walther Collection, 4/14 – 8/19)

Discursive Selves (Westbeth Gallery, 7/11 – 8/21)

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Current shows:

Visit the exhibition calendar for details for the current shows listed below. Check the museum or gallery’s website for hours of operation.

NSFW: Female Gaze(Museum of Sex, 6/21 – TBC)

A New Ballardian Vision (Metro Pictures x Leo Xu Projects, 6/29 – 8/4)

Ji Zhou: Real Illusion (Klein Sun Gallery, 6/22 – 8/5)

Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/29/16 – 8/6/17)

Hansel and Gretel (Park Avenue Armory, 6/7 – 8/6)

Close, but not touching (Biggercode, 7/27 – 8/7)

Morph (Asya Geisberg Gallery, 6/22 – 8/11)

Body, Self, Society – Chinese Performance Photography of the 1990s (The Walther Collection, 4/14 – 8/19)

Discursive Selves (Westbeth Gallery, 7/11 – 8/21)

Jennifer Wen Ma: Entry Niches (Van Doren Waxter, 5/11 – 8/25)

Informality (group show with Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, NYFA Gallery, 5/4 – 9/1)

Yi Xin Tong: NYC Fishing Trip (Nars Foundation, 8/4 – 9/1)

Liu Wei: Cellar and Garret (Klein Sun Gallery, 8/10 – 9/2)

Transitions: Dong Yuan, Lam Tung-pang and Lao Tongli (Chambers Fine Art, 6/22 – 9/2)

Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant (Museum of Food and Drink Lab, 11/11/16 – 9/3/17)

Fully Loaded: Tainan – New York 2017 (Pfizer Building, 7/20 – 9/10)

Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America (Museum of Chinese in America, 10/6/2016 – 9/10/17) 

Infinite Compassion: Avalokiteshvara in Asian Art (Staten Island Museum, 10/22/16 – 9/25/17)

Ian Cheng (MoMA PS1, 4/9 – 9/25)

Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer, 14th – 19th Century (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

From the Imperial Theater: Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

Colors of the Universe: Chinese Hardstone Carvings (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

Heidi Lau: The Primordial Molder (Bronx Museum of the Arts, 7/19 – 10/22)

Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou (China Institute, 5/25 – 11/12/17)

Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong – Constellation (Seward Park, June 2017 – June 2018)


Lead image: People watching Sun Xun’s 3D woodblock animation, Time Spy, which was projected at 11:57 PM every night in the month of July as part of Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment series